Manager Brendan Rodgers said Suarez, who scored 31 goals last season for Liverpool but moved to Barcelona for £75m last month, had sent him a text message before Sunday's 2-1 home win against Southampton, wishing the team all the best.
He said Suarez would never be forgotten, but insisted that the club will do their utmost to land a big-name replacement:
"He’s a good boy but he’s gone," said Rodgers of Suarez's text message. "His heart is with Liverpool. He’ll always be Liverpool and it was a lovely touch.
"I do still think we need another striker. It is something that we will look at but that will depend on the availability of one. So we will search for that through to the end of the window but you see the players, the quality that we have."
Many have tipped Liverpool to take a step backward this season, not just because Suarez is gone, but on account of having to bed in half a dozen new players. Rodgers remains confident though.
"I don't think anyone is giving us any hope of getting in the top four but that was the expectancy last season as well. I feel we will attack the season as we did last year - we can only do our best and we will see where it takes us. The fluency will come, today was about getting the win and we got the win."
The game itself was unusual in that Liverpool did not play particularly well but won anyway. Southampton certainly will take heart from coming so close against the team which ripped out their heart in this transfer window. Rodgers, meanwhile, likes to manage expectations - he did that last season, and Liverpool came second. But he also wants to aim high, and that is reflected in his comments about a Suarez replacement. The Reds have been linked with Radamel Falcao of Monaco, but competition has emerged in the form of Juventus and long-term admirers Real Madrid. In Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, Rodgers has a new 'SAS' strike pairing, but he will see Sterling's future on the wing, and will surely move for an experienced striker - whether it's Falcao or not.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
In theory, Liverpool pull their finger out and buy a big-name centre-forward. This is easier said than done as both Rodgers and the club's owners like to get value with their signings - either good deals (Rickie Lambert) or younger players with resale value (everyone else). Falcao is 28 and has suffered a major injury. He represents a risk - so don't expect Liverpool to pay the £50m Monaco did for the Colombian, and with a £12m loan deal on the table, Real Madrid and Juventus are hovering. If Falcao fails, Edinson Cavani has been mentioned but would also be expensive and PSG don't want to sell. Perhaps something from left-field is afoot - Wilfried Bony, for example...
WHAT THE MEDIA SAID
Tony Barrett (The Times): "In a swashbuckling, if unsuccessful, bid to win last season’s Barclays Premier League title there were few, if any, occasions when Liverpool were laboured in victory. On the opening day of the new campaign that is exactly what they were. Life after Luis Suarez may have got off to a successful start but the fashion of their victory will have done little to diminish the idea that the forward has left a gap of such significance that it may not be possible to fill."
Andy Hunter (The Guardian): "On the first day of life without Luis Suarez, who sent Rodgers a good luck text before kick-off, it reassured Liverpool to witness another predatory finish from Sturridge. The England international was largely anonymous against Koeman’s team and, of the 22 players who started, only the Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster touched the ball less. But he got the one that counted. Sturridge has scored 36 goals in 50 appearances for his club, the most prolific return of any Liverpool player since George Allan in the late 19th century, and his 79th-minute winner signalled mass relief around Anfield."
WHAT THE FANS SAID
- Sports & Recreation
- Brendan Rodgers
- Luis Suarez